The Oracle-Google battle did not come to a decisive end, as a jury found yesterday that Google infringed on Oracle’s 37 Java APIs, but could not determine whether Google had made “fair use” of said material in Android, its mobile OS.
Oracle’s lawsuit against Google was based on the principle that application programming interfaces (APIs) should be able to be copyrighted. Google maintains that infringement cannot be determined until the issue of fair use is addressed definitively.
A few experts have been asked to weigh in on the verdicts. Some, including Julie Samuels, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, feel that an Oracle win may be detrimental down the road.
“There is a dangerous potential outcome if we can start copyrighting APIs because copyright does not contemplate the protection of functional computer programming. It does contemplate protection of what you can create with the programming languages or programs like APIs,” Samuels told CNET.
The decision of the case was not a clear victory for either side. There were many factors in the decision which Tyler Ochoa, professor at Santa Clara Law School, explained.
“There are two possibilities, one favorable to Google – that they believe it was fair use. They were relying on copyright law. The other possibility is that they were determined to go ahead and do this anyway, regardless of whether it was copyrightable or not,” Ochoa said.
The case may end up being called a mistrial and we may be heading back into the courtroom for another case. It may also being an ongoing conflict that may last years due to the vagueness of the API language as well as decision of the current case.